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Nominee to Be Treasury’s Top Economic Envoy Faces Questions on Trade, Global Tax Deal


WASHINGTON—Senators pressed

Jay Shambaugh,

President Biden’s pick to serve as the Treasury Department’s top economic diplomat, about the Biden administration’s efforts to overhaul the global tax system, elevated inflation and U.S. trade policies at a confirmation hearing Tuesday.

If confirmed by the Senate to be Treasury’s undersecretary for international affairs, Mr. Shambaugh would play a key role in shaping the department’s work on international trade and finance, including overseeing relations with the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank.

Mr. Shambaugh’s hearing before the Senate Finance Committee comes as the Treasury Department is grappling with several pressing matters on the international stage. Those include coordinating with Western allies on sanctions on Russia over its war in Ukraine and a push to revamp global tax rules—including implementing a minimum corporate tax on large companies that has been stalled by delays both in the U.S. and abroad.

The Biden administration is also considering whether to ease certain tariffs on Chinese imports as a means of addressing historically high inflation. Treasury Secretary

Janet Yellen

is now on her first trip in that role to the Indo-Pacific region, where some of these issues will be at the center of her meetings with counterparts in Japan, Indonesia and South Korea.

“Interconnectedness, financial crises, shocks from trade, complicated supply chains, unequal global outcomes, the links between foreign and economic policies: These are the challenges of our time,” Mr. Shambaugh said during his opening testimony. “If confirmed, I look forward to working on these issues and consulting closely with the members of this Committee and Congress.”

An aide to Democrats on the finance committee said Mr. Shambaugh’s nomination should receive bipartisan support in the committee.

Mr. Shambaugh, a professor of economics and international affairs at George Washington University, served as a top White House economic adviser during the Obama administration. His research has focused on macroeconomics and international economics.

Mr. Biden in February said he would nominate Mr. Shambaugh for the Treasury post. Andy Baukol, a career Treasury official, has been serving in the position in an acting capacity.

Mark Sobel, a former Treasury official and now U.S. chairman at the Official Monetary and Financial Institutions Forum, said it was important for the undersecretary for international affairs post to be filled. There hasn’t been a Senate-confirmed nominee for the position during the Biden administration.

“It’s critical to have an undersecretary, chosen by the administration and confirmed by the Senate, who is seen by governments around the world as fully vested with the powers of carrying the U.S. flag abroad,” Mr. Sobel said.

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